What is Child Abuse?
There are all different kinds of abuse. Sometimes it's hard to tell if a certain action would be considered as abuse. Here are the three main categories:
Physical – punching, kicking, biting, shaking, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting (with a hand or object), burning, or otherwise harming a child
Sexual – bad touching, being forced to have sex, being forced to look at (or play a part in) porn, being prostituted, having someone expose themselves to you
Neglect – not getting enough food or shelter, lack of supervision, not getting medical or mental health care, not being taken to school
Typically a "child" is considered a person who is 18 or younger, although it might differ for some states.
Who Can I Talk to About Abuse?
The simple answer is a trustworthy adult. Here are some examples:
- a parent, or another relative
- a teacher, or coach
- a school counselor or a professional counselor outside the school
- a neighbor, or family friend
What About Reporting to the Authorities?
So what will happen if you make a report? Every state and every situation is different, but here are some basics:
- Someone will contact you and get as much information about the situation as possible.
- Reports are reviewed to determine which ones they need to investigate. Some reports are screened out if they don't indicate that anything truly abusive is happening, or there isn't enough information.
- Next, an investigator (or caseworker) starts gathering information to clarify if abuse occurred, if it is likely to happen again, and – most especially – to make sure the child is safe.
- Once they understand the facts, they determine what services or resources would best help the family. They might recommend counseling for some families, or removal from the home. It all depends whether everyone will be safe at home.
The main goal is to help families stay safe and strong!